Municipal waste management has been an area of special interest of the European Commission (EC) for many years. In 2018, the EC pointed out issues related to municipal waste management as an important element of the monitoring framework for the transition towards a circular economy (CE), which is currently a priority in the economic policy of the European Union (EU). In the presented monitoring framework, 10 CE indicators were identified, among which issues related to municipal waste appear directly in two areas of the CE – in the field of production and in the field of waste management, and indirectly – un two other areas – secondary raw materials, and competitiveness and innovation. The paper presents changes in the management of municipal waste in Poland in the context of the implementation of the CE assumptions, a discussion of the results of CE indicators in two areas of the CE monitoring framework in Poland (production and waste management), and a comparison of the results against other European countries.
In Poland, tasks related to the implementation of municipal waste management from July 1, 2013 are the responsibility of the municipality, which is obliged to ensure the conditions for the system of selective collection and collection of municipal waste from residents, as well as the construction, maintenance and operation of regional municipal waste treatment installations (RIPOK). The municipality is also committed to the proper management of municipal waste, in accordance with the European waste management hierarchy, whose overriding objective is to prevent waste formation and limiting its amount, then recycling and other forms of disposal, incineration and safe storage. The study analyzed changes in the value of two selected CE indicators, i.e. (1) the municipal waste generation indicator, in the area of production and (2) the municipal waste recycling indicator, in the area of waste management. For this purpose, statistical data of the Central Statistical Office (GUS) and Eurostat were used. Data has been presented since 2014, i.e. from the moment of initiating the need to move to the CE in the EU. In recent years, there has been an increase in the amount of municipal waste generated in Poland as well as in the EU. According to Eurostat, the amount of municipal waste generated per one inhabitant of Poland increased from 272 kg in 2014 to 315 kg in 2017. It should be noted that the average amount of municipal waste generated in Poland in 2017 was one of the lowest in EU, with a European average of 486 kg/person. Poland has achieved lower levels of municipal waste recycling (33.9%) than the European average (46%). The reason for Poland’s worse results in the recycling of municipal waste may be, among others, the lack of sufficiently developed waste processing infrastructure, operating in other countries such as Germany and Denmark, and definitely higher public awareness of the issue of municipal waste in developed countries. Municipal waste management in Poland faces a number of challenges in the implementation of GOZ, primarily in terms of achieving the recycling values imposed by the EC, up to a minimum of 55% by 2025.